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It Took B.B. King To Get Arthur Adams 'Back On Track'

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Arthur Adams live at Sunset Junction festival, Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 2008.

Many years ago B.B. King told Arthur Adams, “I love the spirit in your guitar playing.” It was a friendship that has contributed to Adams’ development and success as an individualistic and sophisticated artist.

A greatly talented guitarist, songwriter and smooth vocalist, Medon, Tennessee’s Arthur Adams’ style has developed over 50 years of playing as session man, bandleader and collaborator with a diverse parade of quite talented people.

Adams mirrors many Blues artists having started singing in Church at age 5 and discovering secular music on the radio soon after. As a teenager Arthur began playing guitar on the family porch, working out pieces he liked from the radio.

Despite his being drawn to popular music, Adams’ first work was touring with a gospel group before being hired for the backup band for Gene Allison, whose 1957 hit, “You Can Make It If You Try” gave him popular support and was the basis for several years of touring. A disagreement with a Dallas promoter led Allison to dump his band and strand Adams.

Settling easily into the Dallas scene in the early 1960s, Arthur started a recording career that paved the way for him to break out and tour on his own. He also began to prefect his talent for writing and had songs recorded by others, not the least of whom was Sam Cook.

Expecting only to come “out to play a few songs, some blues, some R & B and go home,” Adams went west and arrived in Los Angeles in 1964. Instead he caught on in the highly competitive studio scene, becoming both a much in demand guitarist and vocalist.

His writing was also in demand and he contributed “Love and Peace,” to the very influential 1969 Quincy Jones Grammy-winning album, Walking in Space.

Adams recorded four albums in the 1970s, including one co-produced by Bonnie Raitt. Then, continuing to expand his musical horizons, he taught himself bass so he could tour with Nina Simone.

His own recordings took the back seat for about 20 years until B.B. King, having recorded several Adams compositions and employing him as bandleader at his Los Angeles club, pushed Arthur to re-enter the studio in the late 1990s.

The result was appropriately named Back on Track.

Touring the nation’s clubs and festivals, Arthur Adams is well worth seeing in person, firing up crowds with his soaring guitar work and seducing them with his velvety voice. Catch him if you can.

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